Traders claim 'victory' as essential stalls remain open at Wigan and Leigh markets during lockdown

Market traders are declaring a “small victory” as stalls selling goods deemed to be essential have been allowed to stay open during the second national coronavirus lockdown.

Thursday, 5th November 2020, 9:27 am
Updated Thursday, 5th November 2020, 9:29 am
A sign on display at Wigan Market

All businesses in Wigan and Leigh’s market halls had to shut earlier in the year when the coronavirus pandemic began, despite shops selling vital items being free to continue serving customers.

This led to complaints from some traders, who said stalls selling food, for example, should have stayed open.

As England goes into lockdown for a second time, market stalls selling food, hardware and items for pets have been allowed to keep trading.

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James Morley, who runs Gremlins Games in Leigh’s indoor market, hailed it as a “small victory” for traders.

He said: “I’m very pleased with that. I do games and DVDs and understand I have to close, but to close those small businesses down over the Christmas period, it’s basically business suicide, especially when they have already been hit once this year.”

Traders were given the news in an email from council bosses at 5pm on Tuesday, just 24 hours before they may have had to close for a month.

But as lockdown began today, the local authority was still seeking clarification on the rules from Whitehall.

Becca Heron, Wigan Council’s director for economy and skills, said: “The council is still awaiting guidance from Government to determine what constitutes ‘essential retail’.

“But we can confirm that any traders allowed to continue trading under the legislation will be allowed to trade throughout the second lockdown period and like earlier in the year, any traders forced to close will have their rents suspended.

“Furthermore, our teams will be pursuing details on the financial support available to businesses impacted and ensuring grants they are entitled to are swiftly distributed.

“We realise that this is an extremely difficult and uncertain time so the council will ensure to remain in dialogue and update traders whenever we have relevant updates.”

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